The Night Manager is an elegant game of cat-and-mouse with smoldering performances by Hugh Laurie and Tom Hiddleston

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12 April 2016

AMC, premieres April 19, 10:00 PM ET

By Kellie Freeze

AMC’s reimagining of John le Carré’s thrilling post-Cold War novel The Night Manager premieres Tuesday and follows former British soldier Jonathan Pine (Tom Hiddleston) as he attempts to infltrate the inner circle of an international arms dealer (Hugh Laurie) and exact revenge. But to gain the trust of and earn a part among these linen-clad devils, Pine must himself become a criminal.

There is something incredibly alluring and yet utterly terrifying about arms dealer Richard Onslow Roper, and Laurie adeptly embodies this cunning Machiavelli. Laurie shares that he was delighted by the role’s demands, saying, “He is described in the story as the worst man in the world, which is a pretty exciting challenge to take on as a character to play, but a thrilling one, too.”

The mouse in this cat-and-mouse saga is Hiddleston, who plays Pine with pure perfection. Hiddleston is as comfortable in the stiff formality of a hotel employee (Pine’s post-military career) as he is as a manic butt-kicker. “There is a tension between a very calm exterior and a turbulent and chaotic interior,” says Hiddleston, who says he plays Pine as “very, very calm and very passive on the surface while he’s actually on fire beneath.” The heat that he exudes is utterly smoldering, and while each actor is superb in his own scenes, when Laurie and Hiddleston share the screen, the results are eye-popping.

The entire series is permeated with brilliant performances from an all-around stellar cast. Roper’s companion is his devoted girlfriend, Jed (Elizabeth Debicki), whose untouchable sexuality and cool demeanor are reminiscent of an F. Scott Fitzgerald heroine. Debicki’s comfort in this Gatsbyesque microcosm isn’t surprising — she played Jordan Baker in the 2013 film The Great Gatsby. Also, Tom Hollander is deliciously smarmy as Roper’s second in command, Major “Corky” Corkoran. The deliciously desperate character teeters between pathetic and psychotic.

Laurie sums up the series’ appeal, and the appeal of le Carré in general. “There are causes that must be fought for and risked and sacrificed for, and there’s something immensely appealing and immensely romantic to me.  I ?nd this an incredibly romantic story, romantic without ever straying into the sentimental. That’s the miracle of the le Carré writing.”
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